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Boomer women worry more about financial future

3:30 PM, Oct 7, 2012   |    comments
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Christine Dugas, USA TODAY

October 7. 2012 - All Baby Boomers have had a bumpy ride during the Great Recession, but Boomer women are more worried about their financial future than are men.

As the Baby Boomer generation is growing older, 60% of women born between 1946 and 1964 are not confident that they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement compared to 51% of men, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute report released on Monday.

"Concern overall characterizes the Boomer population," says Sara Rix, senior strategy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute. "But women feel more financially insecure and concerned."

There are a number of reasons why women feel more at risk. Older women who have been laid off often find it hard to get hired again. The September jobs report shows that women 55 and older who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks increased from 50.9% in August to 54.0% last month.

Even Boomer women who continue to work, tend to earn less than men, receive lower social security benefits, live longer and face higher health care expenses in retirement than men.

Most Boomer women have not yet reached age 65 and have a few years before they must address the pitfalls of retirement. But even now, 48% are somewhat uncomfortable about the amount of debt they have, such as loans, mortgages and credit card debt, according to the AARP report. But it is the percentage of women who are very uncomfortable about debt, 21%, compared to 15% of men that shows the starkest gender differences.

"This may be tied up with the greater feeling of vulnerability that women feel because of lower wages and overall economic and financial problems they faced over the past three or four years,"Rix says.

Although women are worried about their retirement future, they tend to underestimate how much money they'll need. Among women workers of all ages, 37% think that they will need less than $250,000 for retirement, compared to 20% of men, according to EBRI's 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey. More often men say that they will need to accumulate more than $1 million.

"When we ask people how they got their estimates, a large percentage of them say that they guess," says Dallas Salisbury, president and CEO of EBRI. For more help estimating retirement savings, he advises women to use EBRI's free iPad and iPhone Ballpark Estimate app or go to Choosetosave.org to take advantage of the Ballpark Estimate interactive tool.

It's also hard for women to set aside money for themselves when they also have family issues, such as college loans, to address."All of a sudden, one day you wake up and you're old and you haven't done the savings that you wish you had," Rix says. "But time is running out."

But women have some advantages. Even if they don't earn as much as men, they tend to put their savings into safer, more diversified investments.

"Men, more so than women, want to throw a dart at a business section and pick a stock that goes up 15% a year," says Jerry Verseput, a fee-only financial planner at Veripax Financial Management in Folsom, Calif. "Women have a more realistic sense of what they can glean from the market."

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